What does it mean to be resilient in our current society? Is it even possible with all the noise around? Is worksite wellness doing enough to build resilient companies and individuals? If not how can we change this paradigm?


Resilient defined


  • Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions
  • Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed


Interesting in the two definitions one could assume we’re looking at mental resilience in the first and physical in the second. Or maybe it’s just my perspective, but nevertheless an interesting starting point.


While there might be specific mental and physical aspects to resiliency they often overlap and assist each other. A person might find getting outside for a walk (being physical) a resiliency tool after a tough talk with their boss. Or a hard laborer might recover quicker from injury through guided meditation.


Let me preface here also that no amount of resiliency can overcome a toxic company culture filled with harassment, discrimination and intimidation. If you want high performers in your company with tools to be empowered, leadership that exhibits qualities of respect, integrity and honesty has to be part of the resilience package.


Withstand or recover from difficult situations


In a company there will be constant highs and lows internally and externally. It can be due to critical deadlines, travel, team dynamics, personnel changes, seasonal cycles and thousands of other components of simply operating a business.


It’s also a given that certain aspects are predictable such as quarterly financials in business and others are not, say a co-worker falls suddenly ill. Learning skills that allow you to manage challenging situations means prepare and practice both for the expected as well as the unexpected.


Let’s think for a moment like an athlete or performer that is working towards a competition or performance. Two main components are the training and the event itself. How one trains is how one performs, thus consistency to success.


On training, making sure your body and mind are on a regular basis acquiring the technique you need to do the job is paramount. Like a dancer takes a daily class and rehearses the material regularly. This ensures performance is in many ways a well-rehearsed event.


You can think similarly from a business perspective. If you have a presentation to your team or a one on one with your boss, how do you best prepare. The training items you choose should be incorporated into your regular routine.


 “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” ― Coach John Wooden


5 Key preparation tools for business


  • Practice communication skills
  • Cultivate regular physical and renewal habits
  • Integrate food for performance mentality
  • Develop easy to use mental training practices
  • Utilize support team or EAP service


Communication skills


I cannot over-emphasize the need in today’s work environment for practice on communication skills. We use language in all its’ forms, speaking, non-verbal and virtual communications constantly day in day out, but do we rehearse it?


Plus, it is easy to get comfortable in thinking you “know” it and not see that few people around you are actually, a) receiving your message and b) engaging in what you say and c) motivated to continue to listen to you.


Assisting individuals at whatever level of communication they need, basic, creative and or specific to the team, is a tool for resiliency. There are plenty of communication companies who specialize in these trainings. An outside company can be an objective voice away from company politics and possibly enhance the learning curve positively.


Beyond external communication courses that emphasize clear and constructive communications internal company communications should follow similar practices. Elements such as transparency, honesty and allowing space for dialogue are foundational to creating trust internally. In other words lead by example.


Physical habits


Doing something physical is a handy tool to put your mind on something else. It gets you to focus on your body and away from a busy mind. This does not have to be an organized athletic activity, just actions that move your body.


It also means taking real physical actions to pause. Breaks during the day and time away from a desk or workspace are important to a healthy mind and body. Business coaches as well as athletic ones will say rest and renewal accelerate optimal performance.


By cultivating physical outlets you create higher probability for maximum performance and maybe less stress. It is advantageous to have outlets that are short in duration and can be done in public spaces, as well as those, which need more time. With the added bonus if you can get outside.


Mini routines

  • Walk up and down a flight of stairs
  • Stroll around the block
  • Lean against a wall and roll your spine up and down
  • Learn to juggle


Longer outlets

  • Clean your car or house
  • Take a long walk or run
  • Go swimming
  • Do yard or garden work
  • Join a recreational league or club
  • Play with your kids outside


‘Just keep in mind that the more stress you have, the more your body needs to move to keep your brain running smoothly.”

Dr. John Ratey

Author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”


Performance food


I’ve talked in numerous posts on food about the need to promote food for performance as opposed to a mindset of punishment or reward. Whether it is the workplace or your home developing food habits that support high performance need to be practiced.


This is not about forcing dietary habits on individuals, nor about a ridiculous 5 a day slogan campaign. It’s about promoting eating and cooking real food. It is about finding the joy and fun in sharing real food. It encourages skills like make a shopping list, bring your own food to work, and thinking critically about food advertising.


If companies want high performers they need to think about the choices available to their employees while at work. Are they demanding energy from their team but not providing food that lends itself to high performance?


Mental training


Having a mixed bag of tools to utilize in all types situations is simply said, training. If one hopes to play the piano the only way to improve is to practice. If you want your mind to slow or calm down, you’ve got to find a method that works for you and practice it.


There are a host of options in the realm of meditation and breathing techniques. Allowing individuals the opportunity to experience different styles and methods gives space for creativity and personal affinity. Teaching the importance to take time for yourself and just breath is a positive step on the resilience road.


Part of integrating tools such as meditation and breathing techniques also gets individuals away from computer screens and other devices. Learning to be with your self quietly allows space for clarity, focus and the ability to spring back.


The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” 

 Nelson Mandela


Support team or service


Northern California recently experienced some unprecedented fires particularly in the Napa and Sonoma Valley areas. Thousands of homes were destroyed and in an instant lives and families devastated. Tragedies like this demonstrate how tough, necessary and incredibly brave our nation’s first responders are. How in an instant they jump to support those in need.


While men and women responders are trained to be the ultimate support system, we all need our own personal support system. Ideally one puts together a unique support team of friends, colleagues and or professional individuals before an incident occurs. Individuals that you can talk through a situation, ask for advice, air your concerns and moreover be yourself.


In the workplace organizations like EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) are often sadly under-utilized. They are meant to be exactly that support system in a host of areas, such as financial, social and mental health. Companies could do a better job of communicating that these services are first and foremost private and second, available whenever you need it.


Coming back after a setback


I often utilize my previous background in the performing arts to demonstrate a real life example. Auditioning is a rough part of being a professional dancer. No matter how long you’ve been in the business you must put yourself in front of the judges, in order to be in the running for the next job.


A given is the audition, the outcome is the unknown. You can do this hundreds of times over the life of your career. Obviously when chosen, life is rosy. When on the other end, one has to pick up, dust off and move forward.


How do you dust off and move forward? Beyond all the previously discussed items like physical training, performance nutrition and having a support team in place, I found this a helpful routine.


  1. Take time to be sad
  2. Make notes on the audition
  3. Get back in class ASAP
  4. Spend time with friends


We perform as we practice, build your own unique resilience steps and wellness leaders should encourage companies to do the same.



“The problem is not making up the steps but deciding which ones to keep.” 


Mikhail Baryshnikov






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